Hornbeam And Huckleberry Trunks

I posted a blog a couple of weeks ago about new American hornbeam and Huckleberry specimens I’d collected.  That post disappeared when we changed hosting services.  I don’t feel like trying to recreate that blog, so here’s a replacement to show you a few nice trees that will hopefully survive lifting and come available in about two months.

Here’s a nice smaller hornbeam specimen (1.5″ base on the main trunk).  It’s actually a triple-trunk.  The main trunk has really nice taper and movement.  The two smaller trunks are proportionately smaller, which is just what you want, so I think this could make a terrific multi-trunk bonsai in just a few years.

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing the theme of multi-trunk bonsai-to-be, this hornbeam is a very elegant twin-trunk.  Think of them as “close companions.”  Most twin-trunks don’t feature the trunks quite so close together.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this one looks once it’s designed.  With a base of 1.75″, it’s a good size also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hornbeam also has a 1.75″ trunk, and really great trunk character.  I chopped the trunk to a smaller branch that was growing straight up.  It’s not quite a formal upright, but it’s definitely an upright specimen and the height should be emphasized when it’s designed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Huckleberry has a pretty stout trunk, 1.75″ at the base, and also good taper.  It should produce a decent number of trunk buds, which will allow for good design choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This specimen is smaller than the one above, 1.25″ at the base, but really nice character and I was able to chop to a smaller trunk (which I left too long, but you can always chop more).  That makes for really good taper.  It’s currently 9″ from soil to apex, so when it gets chopped and then grown into a bonsai the finished height could well be less than 12″.  I’m really fond of shohin bonsai.  How about you?

 

The Harvest Is Underway

With the new year only nine days away, and with some time to spare today (after wrapping Cathy’s Christmas present), I decided to lift a few trees and get a head-start on the season.

A couple of weeks ago I lifted two Huckleberries, Vaccinium sp., to see if I could get even more of a head-start on the season.  I had been eyeing this specimen since the fall.  It’s bigger than the ones I collected earlier, and frankly is destined for my collection if it survives.  As you can see, I have one of the two trunks of this tree in exactly the shape it needs to be in in order to make a believable tree form.  There’s movement and taper, and sub-trunks that I can train branches from.  My plan is to develop a typical Huckleberry shape in miniature.  The second trunk is going to require a few years of development.  From the chop point I need a new leader that I can let run (and wire to introduce some movement in it; if I don’t do this at the right time, once the wood sets it’ll be way too hard to bend).  I don’t mind this development challenge.  It’s a very, very nice Huckleberry.

The trunk base is 3.5″ across, and it’s 18″ to the chop on the taller trunk.  I figure it’s got to be on the order of 50 years old, mostly based on the size.  My home was built in 1982, and this Huckleberry was growing at the base of a pine tree that’s been here all that time, so it’s most likely at least 35 years old.  Fifty isn’t out of the question.

Here’s a Live oak, Quercus virginiana, that I grew from seed started in 2010.  It’s been in the field getting thicker for about five years now.  The trunk base is 2.5″ above the root crown, and it’s got nice taper to the chop point.  My plan for it will be to train it in the classic Live oak style, with broad spreading branches that droop to the ground.  Depending on where this one pushes buds, another chop may be in order.  But I’ve got a good start.

In a few minutes I had the tree potted up, with the rootage buried.  Live oaks can be lifted with good success in January, so I figure late December should pose no challenge for them.

Let me know what you think of these trees.  And I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas!

 

Trying Stuff = Getting Better At Bonsai

Unless you are strictly into bonsai as a connoisseur, meaning you collect bonsai and have a visiting or resident artist/curator maintain them for your viewing pleasure, you can’t ever ever stop trying and learning stuff.  Now, don’t take that to mean you should learn the same lesson over and over again (I’ve had a few that way); but no one, and I mean no one, ever knows it all.  So I have to keep on learning, and so do you.  Learning means trying things.  If you’re always trying things, you’re bound to get better at bonsai.

Okay, with all that said, collecting season is right around the corner.  Most of the deciduous trees here are now dormant, so they are just about in the ideal condition for collecting.  They’re sleeping, in other words, having built up their food stores for winter, and that’s when they can be collected with the highest odds of success.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t lift this Huckleberry, Vaccinium sp., until next month.  It’s the sort of concept I’ve stuck with for 25 years now, because it’s a known concept horticulturally and I’ve had great success following the script.  But why can’t I collect this specimen now?  What’s magical about waiting another 22 days to collect it?  Well, nothing I can think of.  So this is me trying something new, and if it works then I’ve added to my bonsai knowledge.

What if this tree doesn’t survive?  What if going straight to this bonsai pot wasn’t a good way to test this idea?  I’ll lift another one tomorrow and pot it into a nursery container, so that will give me two subjects to experiment on.

Huckleberry is very easy to collect, by the way.  I don’t recall ever losing one, so the survival rate is in excess of 90%.

The tree in the photo, by the way, has a base that’s 1.75″ above the root crown.  It’s 17″ to the chop.  Huckleberries typically produce nice radial roots, and this one is no exception.  I’ve buried them for now; the tree can be potted higher in a couple of years to expose the nebari.

Now for two critical questions, and I’d like your input.  Should I remove the right-hand leader?  The taper would be much better if I did.  And should I remove the secondary trunk?  Let me know what you think.

Don’t You Love Spring Growth? And Check Out A Blueberry Bonsai-To-Be

It’s just the best time of year for bonsai, spring.  Everything is putting on a fresh set of growth, meaning opportunities for the bonsai artist to make his or her trees better.  No matter if you’re styling or restyling or refining, these next four to eight weeks are going to make a big difference for your bonsai.

This Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, is one of our featured Progressions.  I grew it from a cutting, then grew it out in the ground for a few years, and then lifted and started the process of making it into a bonsai.  You’ll see just how far it’s come in the Progression update I posted today.

This photo is after the first flush of spring growth and the first trimming.  I’ve also shortened the leader, and will let a new one grow out for a while before repeating that process.

 

 

This Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, was slip-potted in March so I could continue its development as a bonsai.  It hasn’t missed a beat, and it now throwing strong shoots that will set into branches before long.  You can see it’s been wired out completely; this round of wire will be coming off by June, at which time I’ll have secondary branching in development.  It’ll also be time to rein in the growth, in order to maintain the correct proportions in the tree.  If you’d like to take on that chore, this tree is available at our Sweetgum Bonsai page and can be shipped next month.

Have you ever grown Blueberry, Vaccinium species, for bonsai?  There are many Blueberries native to North America, and eight that grow in my home state including the so-called Tree Huckleberry that can grow to 30 feet in height (it’s the tallest of the Blueberries, as you might imagine).

This one is another of the species, which I haven’t made a precise identification on.  I decided to direct-pot in in this nice Chuck Iker round, to speed up the development process.  It had a nice trunk line with little need for tapering in the apex.  That only left branch development and some crown work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little time and a little wire, and now we have a nice little Huckleberry bonsai-to-be.  The trunk base is 1″ and the finished height will be about 14″.  It’s got nice bark and trunk character.  I’ve posted it for sale at our Miscellaneous Bonsai page.